President Donald Trump officially began his re-election campaign on Tuesday night during a rally in Orlando, Florida, using violent rhetoric and accusing opponents of seeking to destroy the nation.
During the event, the president took aim at many individuals he said opposed him.
“Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable, it’s not going to happen,” Trump said.
Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall explained that this single line from Trump’s speech exemplified how the rest of the evening went down.
“In terms of projection, fury and borderline eliminationist rhetoric, it captured the entire performance” of Trump’s rally in Orlando, Marshall wrote in a blog post.
welp "Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." pic.twitter.com/zIc4qMZ8Wf
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 19, 2019
Trump’s rhetoric here isn’t new, of course: he’s made many blatant attacks against his political opponents on Twitter and elsewhere in the past, including suggesting those who disagreed with him and his vision of America, and even news outlets that report stories he doesn’t like to read or hear about, are guilty of treason — an offense that is punishable by death in the United States, per reporting from CNN.
There might be a strategic reason for why he’s doing this. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop pointed out in a recent post, the president’s polling numbers are way low, demonstrating he might have difficulties winning re-election in 2020. The old standard for Trump, then, the method that won him the presidency in 2016, is to simply make yourself look better than your opponent in the states that matter.
“He is too toxic to hope for a landslide,” Prokop wrote. “But it’s certainly conceivable that he could make the eventual Democratic nominee toxic to enough voters that he can squeak through with another narrow win.”
This has obvious advantages for Trump, but what does it do for our country? Nothing good — as we’ve seen in the recent past, Trump’s violent rhetoric tends to result in motivating others to take his words into actions.
Recent history demonstrates as much. Cesar Sayoc, a Trump acolyte who was arrested for sending pipe bombs in the mail to people the president singled out as being enemies of his administration, specifically stated in court documents that he was inspired by Trump to do so. Sayoc, who lived just a few hours from where Trump’s Tuesday night rally took place, said that Trump’s rallies were like a “new found drug” for him, CNN reported.
Sayoc isn’t alone: there are many other instances of Trump’s most extremist of supporters acting out in violent ways, The Intercept reported.
It’s not too far off of a comparison to say Trump’s rallies mirror in many ways George Orwell’s depiction of the “two-minutes hate” from his novel “1984,” in which adherents to the party in that book shout and act violently toward images of Big Brother’s enemies. It’s also not a huge leap to assume that some listening to his words might act out, the way that Sayoc and others have, against Trump’s listed antagonists.
That’s not the kind of America we should want to live in. But it’s apparent that Trump didn’t see Orwell as a warning — rather, it’s possible the president (or the people surrounding him) see the 20th-century author’s writings as an instruction manual instead.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.